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Visiting Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre – Olympics 2012

BY Boon Koh
Published 30 July 2012

Going to watch the men’s and women’s Olympic volleyball at Earl’s Court Exhibition Center? This guide will tell you all you need to know, answer the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about visiting this Olympic venue in South West London.

Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is an interesting venue for Olympic volleyball, in that it is not a purpose-built sport venue. During normal times, its used mainly as an exhibition center, like the Real Food Festival. However, it is interesting to see how they’ve converted this huge, cavernous exhibition hall into the official venue for Olympics volleyball.

Having just gone to see the men’s volleyball at Earl’s Court, Poland vs Italy and Brazil vs Tunisia, here are my 3 tips for visiting Earl’s Court for the Olympics:

1. Getting To Earl’s Court – Go to West Brompton Instead
Although the venue is named Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, the building is actually in-between Earl’s Court tube station and West Brompton tube & rail station. And because of crowd control measures, the entrance to Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is just outside West Brompton station, rather than Earl’s Court station. So if you’re coming by District Line from central London, get the District Line (green) train to Wimbledon and stay on board at Earl’s Court. Get off at the next stop, West Brompton, to save you some time walking. Its approximately 10-15 minutes walk from Earl’s Court station to the entrance to the volleyball. Whereas from West Brompton station its just across the road. If you’re more adventurous, try getting to West Brompton by National Rail, or by the London Overground (orange line).

2. The seats are hard – bring some cushions!
Unlike some of the other purpose built Olympic venues for sports watching, LOCOG have cobbled together some temporary seating for the volleyball at Earl’s Court. They’ve opted to use wooden seats padded with only a very thin cushion! And since you’ll be stuck there watching for 3-4 hours (2 matches in total), your butt might get quite sore. So do yourself a favour and bring a cushion or towel with you make the seats more comfortable.

3. Save some money and bring an empty water bottle
Instead of paying £2.30 for a bottle of coke or a bottle of Abbey Well water, bring your own water bottle and fill up at the various drinking fountains inside Earl’s Court. Just make sure that your water bottle is empty before you pass through security – as only bottles with less than 100ml of liquids are allowed inside Olympic venues. But beware that the lines for the water fountains are quite long – when I was there it took about 10 minutes or more to reach the front. And the security at Earl’s Court is tight – all the x-ray machines are manned by the Army, not temporary G4S staff, so don’t even think about trying to sneak in a bottle of water or coke into the venue!

Been to Earl’s Court to watch some Olympics volleyball? Have any tips or hints regarding transport, the venue, or food & drink inside? Let us know in the comments below.